Many people suffer from the misconception that the nouveau riche are a wealthy class. Unfortunately, they’re nothing of the kind. Nouveau riche is a form of neurosis in which one is money obsessed, and believes oneself to be far wealthier than he really is. Rather than having money, the nouveau riche simply spend money, and then scramble to get money to pay for the things they bought that they couldn’t afford. The nouveau riche always think they have more money than they actually have, and think they’re more important than they actually are. Saving money has no value to the nouveau riche; whether it’s at the grocery store or the bank. Squandering is considered a virtue. Convenience is at a premium. Children are possessions and further proof of nouveau riche superiority. The more an item costs, the more it’s worth, even if it’s exactly the same item without a shred of difference from the less expensive version. The nouveau riche think that Mercedes Benz, BMW and Jaguar are essential to life, and react to these high-powered vehicles much as an obese person reacts to a giant chocolate cake. Many nouveau riche have been known to casually pick up one or two of these automotive baubles on their way home from work.
The worst thing is that nouveau riche is a communicable disease which can be passed down to our children. There is no way to completely cure this disorder, either. The child may despise everything his parents did or stood for, but within a few years of reaching adulthood and independence will find himself in some semblance of his parents’ shoes. The children of the nouveau riche develop expensive tastes, a lust for the better things in life and an intolerance for poverty. They may begin to indulge in evenings out, going to the movies and expensive restaurants. They may buy houses and cars that are just a little more expensive than they can afford. They may compulsively buy clothing, shoes or electronic equipment. They may collect totally unnecessary yet pleasurable things. The basic idea is that the child of the nouveau riche always lives just a little beyond his means, creating a deficit which slowly but surely erodes his financial health and well being.
The basic problem is that rather than building wealth, the nouveau riche aggressively hunt wealth down. They stalk it. They shoot arrows and guns at it. Then they drag their kill home, often leaving a litter of dead bodies in their wake. Money, status symbols, success and material wealth hold far too high a priority for the nouveau riche. They place far too low a priority on financial stability or security, and usually make no plans for retirement. Thus, retirement can often be a train wreck for the nouveau riche, or sometimes it simply never happens at all, and the nouveau riche simply continues working until he’s got one foot in the grave.
What is the solution to this phenomenon? I haven’t got an easy one. This is an illness, not something perverse that the nouveau riche do just to tick everybody off. However, if our society is to survive, we definitely need to take some action to stem the tide of this detestable affliction. Ultimately, the real difference between a person being driven by nouveau riche madness and a person who’s just a day late and a dollar short is where they place their priorities. Family, home and happiness should always be the most important things to us, and money should take a back seat. Money can’t buy happiness, we all know, but we also know that it can relieve a lot of suffering. Thus it’s far too easy to get bitten by the money bug. And ultimately, doing what makes you happy is better than doing what makes you a fast buck. After all, isn’t that what life is all about? Being happy?
When we’re born a clock starts ticking. It’s counting down to a final and permanent end. It’s hard to say for sure when that clock will finally wind down and our brief lives will end. Sometimes it’s a short time, but more often it’s eighty, ninety, or even a hundred years. The apparent length of our lives give us the illusion of immortality. We forget that we’re not going to live forever, and that we can’t put happiness of until tomorrow.
What’s the moral of this story? Don’t wait to do the things you really want to do. Do them now. Write that novel. Paint that painting. Spend that time with your kids. Take that vacation. Spend that money, but not in a nouveau riche sort of way. Spend it knowing that whatever you’re spending it on is worth doing now, rather than later. Do these things knowing that if you don’t do them now, you may never do them. Time, not convenience, is what we should really place at a premium. Don’t wallow in riches and status symbols. Instead, experience life. Live it and enjoy it to the fullest.